Monday, July 11, 2005

Runners World Review July 8th, 2005

Runners World Review July 8th, 2005

For those of you who missed it!

At the Movies: “Kicking Bird”
by Dave Kuehls

This film is low budget, even for an independent film. The
violent scenes are frequently way over the top. The running is
a weird hybrid of track and road racing, no doubt necessitated
by the budget restraints. And yet, through it all “Kicking
Bird” elucidates an essential truth about running—that it is
an expression of the self.

The story is about Martin Johnson, a 17 year-old white trash
kid who runs, mostly to avoid getting beaten up by members of
the track team—which seems to consist of only a handul of
athletes—who act like football players from another teen
movie. Mom is in jail. Dad has his own booth at the corner bar
and no recollection of his son, and Martin’s best friend is
one of those weird teen movie sidekicks who like to spout
inanities down by the train tracks at night.

But Martin can run. And he’s told he will do so by the track
coach, a paunchy ex-jock who sometimes runs along with Martin
and who sees in him a ticket out, all the way to a nice
university. It’s a package deal. How Martin decides to deal
with everything in his life comes down to, of course, the
final race, which echoes “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
and Good Will Hunting.

“Kicking Bird” was written and directed by Kelley Baker, aka,
Angry Filmmaker, a former sound designer for director—Gus
Van Sant (“Good Will Hunting”). His short films have aired on
PBS and The Learning Channel and have been shown at film
festivals like London and Sundance. In December 2002, Baker
sent out 100 letters to family and friends asking for $100 to
make his film. He got 49 takers, then added some more cash and
shot “Kicking Bird” in digital video over 18 days in and
around Portland, Oregon,” “guerilla style,” with no permits,
and no actor who you may recognize (though some of the
performances are quite good, like Ian Anderson-Priddy in the

“Please don’t be expecting some big, slick Hollywood
running movie,” Baker wrote to me in a letter that accompanied
the DVD. That was never my intention.

I didn’t expect it. “Kicking Bird” is not a big production
like “Chariots of Fire” or “Without Limits”. And it has its
faults. But at the core it is very true. And that’s something
substantial in any genre.

Kicking Bird is available to order by going to And according to its maker, would get
an “R” rating for violence and language.

Dave Kuehls once had lunch with George A. Romero.

Not bad for a $6000 movie…


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